Bananas or plantains are often known as nature’s candy bar. Rich and creamy with a sweet undertone, bananas are a favourite ingredient for dessert and snacks, but this fruit is used for main course dishes as well.
From raw and ripe bananas to its leaves, stems and flowers, the culinary possibilities of this ingredient are endless. In India alone, particularly in the coastal states, bananas have found their way into a variety of preparations.
We bring you the best banana recipes handpicked from nine coastal states:
1. Bhatia Kadhi from Gujarat
Gujaratis are known for the widespread use of bananas in their cooking – blame their love for all things sweet. The Bhatia Kadhi is a sweet and sour curry made with bananas and curd. Served with rice, papad and pickle, it is comfort food at its best.
How to make:
- Cook tur dal as you would normally, strain and keep aside.
- Mix some curd and besan (chickpea or gram flour) in a bowl. Whisk and keep aside.
- For the tadka, heat some oil in a deep non-stick pan. Add some cumin seeds, mustard seeds, hing (asafetida) and fenugreek seeds.
- When the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add in veggies of your choice, roughly chopped raw bananas, the strained dal and some water.
- Stir this well and cover with a lid.
- Let the kadhi cook on a slow flame for around 10 minutes or until all veggies are cooked well.
- Add some kokum, jaggery and the curd-besan mixture. Mix well and cook for a few minutes while stirring continuously.
2. Kelfulachi Bhaji from Maharashtra
One of the most popular banana preparations from Maharashtrian cuisine is Shikran. It is a sweet dish made using ripe bananas and is usually relished with chapatis or puris. However, other parts of the banana find their way into Maharashtrian cuisine as well.
The Maharashtrian-style kelfulachi bhaji, in particular, is a delicious stir-fry made using banana florets which are called kelful in Marathi. This banana recipe is typically made with Malvani masala to bring out the authentic aroma and flavours. It is best enjoyed with a serving of dal-rice or khichdi.
How to make:
- Peel and clean the florets.
- Chop them finely and soak overnight in the refrigerator or for at least 30 minutes in some diluted buttermilk or plain water. You could also add a dash of turmeric and salt to the buttermilk to reduce the bitterness.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Add some cumin and mustard seeds. Let the seeds crackle for 10 seconds. Add some hing (asafetida), chopped garlic and onions.
- Fry till the onions turn translucent and begin to leave an aroma.
- Add the florets. Sprinkle a generous amount of malvani masala and stir properly.
- Add some jaggery and kokum as per your liking and sauté until the florets cook.
- Add some water and cover the pan to fasten the cooking process if needed.
- Make sure you keep tossing so that the ingredients don't get stuck to the bottom of the pan.
3. Kelywacho Halwo from Goa
If you've grown up in Goa, banana filos or banana pancakes would be a familiar Sunday morning affair. The Kelyacho Halwo is another traditional Goan sweet dish made from a special variety of bananas called the Nendra bananas, commonly known as Kerala bananas. The secret to making this banana recipe lies in using bananas that have completely turned black, however not rotten.
How to make:
- Peel and slice the bananas into thin rounds and keep them aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat some ghee on a medium flame.
- Add the banana slices and fry on both sides until cooked.
- Add a few tablespoons of water, some sugar and cloves.
- Cook the bananas on a low flame until the mix begins to thicken.
- Once the mixture reaches a halwa-like consistency, add in some cardamom powder and turn off the heat.
- Top with some banana slices and serve cold.
4. Balekai Payasam from Karnataka
Mangalore's banana puris, popularly known as Mangalore buns, are the pride of Mangalore. However, what’s worth a mention is the Balekai Payasam, a sweet dish that’s made using raw bananas, jaggery and coconut milk. Nuts, cardamom and dry ginger powder occasionally find their way into this banana recipe too.
How to make:
- Melt some jaggery in warm water and keep it aside.
- Heat some ghee in a pan. Add boiled and mashed raw bananas.
- Let this cook for a few minutes and then add the jaggery water.
- Pour in some coconut milk and allow it to boil for a few minutes.
- In case it becomes too thick, you can add some coconut milk to adjust the consistency.
- Garnish with nuts or cardamom powder.
5. Pazhampori from Kerala
Kerala could be credited for finding the maximum number of ways to use banana as an ingredient. Be it in snacks, stews, jams, desserts or curries, bananas are everywhere in Kerala's cuisine. Not to forget the sadya which is served on a banana leaf. Our most favourite banana recipe from this region is Pazhampori or banana fritters.
How to make:
- In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and water to form a semi-thick batter. Make sure it isn't too thick or too watery. You could add a pinch of turmeric for some colour.
- Peel the bananas and slice them into halves, length-wise. You could use thick slices or slice them further.
- Dip the banana slices in the batter and coat them evenly.
- Heat some oil in a deep pan. When it is hot enough, gently slide the batter-coated banana slices into the oil.
- Keep flipping the banana slices and fry until golden brown.
- In the final step of this banana recipe, transfer the cooked banana fritters onto a paper napkin to drain excess oil.
6. Vendakkai-Vazhakkai Mor Kuzhambu from Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, banana appams are an important part of festivals. Apart from these, the Vendakkai-Vazhakkai Mor Kuzhambu is a cooling banana recipe made with bhindi (okra) and raw banana curry. This dish is a burst of flavours and yet light on your tummy.
How to make:
- Stir-fry some bhindi in a pan.
- After the sliminess reduces, throw in some peeled and chopped raw bananas. Lightly toss the ingredients and keep them aside.
- In a mixer, grind some broken raw rice grains, a few tablespoons of coriander seeds, split tur dal, some ginger, slit green chillies and a cup of grated coconut.
- Once the mixture turns crumbly, add some water and grind to a paste-like consistency.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Add the ground mixture and some turmeric powder. Stir well and cover with a lid. Let it cook on a medium flame till the dal and rice get done.
- Pour some buttermilk and season with salt.
- Toss in the fried bhindi and raw bananas. Stir and cook on low heat for a few minutes.
- Finish with a tadka of mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and dried red chillies.
7. Kadali Manja Tarkari from Odisha
Odisha’s love for bananas doesn’t end with its banana malpuas. The Kadali Manja Tarkari, a banana stem curry, is another dish that you’ll hear your Odiya friends boasting about. Typically seasoned with garlic, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and red chillies, this curry is perfect with a plain bowl of rice.
How to make:
- Start by cleaning and cutting the banana stem into thin circles.
- After you’ve taken out as much of the fibre as you can, marinate with some salt and turmeric and keep aside.
- After half an hour, squeeze out all the water from the banana stem pieces.
- Grind some garlic cloves, whole cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and coriander seeds along with some red chillies into a smooth paste.
- In a heated pan, add the pancha phutana (a blend of five spices) and bay leaves.
- Add a roughly chopped onion and potato while stirring continuously.
- Add the freshly ground paste along with some ginger-garlic paste and turmeric powder. Cook till the raw smell goes off.
- Add the squeezed banana stem pieces and stir-fry till almost cooked. You can pour in some water to adjust the consistency.
- Cook for a few minutes before taking off the heat.
8. Thorer Ghonto from West Bengal
While it’s true that the Bengalis are fond of fish, it's not unusual to find at least two vegetarian dishes in an average Bengali meal. The Thorer Ghonto is one such purely vegetarian dish. Hot and sweet, it features the banana stem as an ingredient and is eaten with plain rice.
How to make:
- For this recipe, cleaning the core part of the banana stem is quite a task. Once done, finely chop and boil in water with salt and turmeric. Save the stock for later use.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add some fennel seeds, bay leaves and dry chillies (slightly crushed).
- Once the spices begin to leave a fragrance, add some chopped potatoes, salt and turmeric powder. Let this cook on a medium flame until they turn golden.
- In a small bowl, mix some ginger paste, chilli paste, cumin and coriander powder, a pinch of turmeric powder, some salt and sugar. You could add a few tablespoons of water to mix everything together.
- Pour this mix into the pan and let the potatoes cook until the oil starts separating at the edges.
- Add the boiled banana stem along with some boiled chana (if needed). Add half a cup of the stock.
- Bring it to a simmer and cook covered until done.
9. Aratikaya Vepudu from Andhra Pradesh
In Andhra Pradesh, Aratikaya Vepudu steals the show. While aratikaya means raw banana, vepudu means stir-fry. Typically, this banana recipe uses the same ingredients but is prepared differently.
Some variations finish the banana recipe with a tadka or poppu that consists of cumin seeds, chillies, curry leaves and a few green chillies (if you can handle the heat). Some households tend to use less oil and throw in grated coconut. Meanwhile, some people add dals (popular ones being urad and chana dal) to increase the health quotient of this dish.
Typically this banana recipe is made with raw green plantains, onions, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, chilli and cumin powder and other spices. Prepared in a similar fashion as upma, the raw bananas are mashed along with the other spices and cooked until they are just right – not too raw or too mushy.